Automaton – Definition & Meaning

The term automaton is commonly used in various contexts, including literature, philosophy, and science. It is a term that has been in use for centuries and has evolved over time to encompass different meanings. In this article, we will explore the definition and meaning of automaton, its origin, and its associations.


An automaton is a self-operating machine or mechanism that performs a specific function. It is a device that can perform a series of actions or movements without the need for external input. The term automaton is often used to describe robots, machines, and other mechanical devices that can perform tasks on their own.


The term automaton has its roots in ancient Greek mythology. The word comes from the Greek word “automatos,” which means “self-moving.” In Greek mythology, automata were self-operating machines created by the god Hephaestus. These machines were designed to perform tasks such as opening and closing doors, serving food, and playing music.

Meaning in different dictionaries

The meaning of automaton varies slightly depending on the dictionary. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, an automaton is “a machine that is capable of performing a series of actions automatically, especially one that is programmable by a computer.” Merriam-Webster defines an automaton as “a machine or control mechanism designed to follow automatically a predetermined sequence of operations or respond to predetermined instructions.”


The term automaton is often associated with science fiction and robotics. It is also used in philosophy to describe the concept of determinism, which is the idea that all events are predetermined and that human beings are essentially automatons, acting according to predetermined patterns.


Synonyms for automaton include robot, machine, android, cyborg, and mechanical device.


Antonyms for automaton include human, sentient being, and living organism.

The same root words

The root word “automatos” also appears in other English words, such as automatic, automation, and automaker.

Example Sentences

  • The factory uses automatons to assemble cars on the production line.
  • The robot vacuum cleaner is an example of an automaton.
  • In the movie, the evil scientist creates an army of automatons to take over the world.
  • Some philosophers argue that humans are not truly free but are instead automatons following predetermined patterns.
  • The automaker is investing in new technology to make their cars more automated.
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